Created a custom game board that gave new insights to take into the future.

Created a custom game board that gave new insights to take into the future.

Learn about the insights and see the process of making a 3D printed Settler of Catan board.

How it all started

Through the years, especially during my university days, my friends and I would play Settlers of Catan.

Grab a few drinks, and head over to meet the group to battle it out on the board! We usually had a great time playing. The few times we didn't, the board became too soggy to play on.....Liquid vs cardboard. Liquid wins every time.

So seeing this issue and going through 2 boards in a month, I began developing an idea to recreate the board in a way that would not break apart when something spilled. After 350 hours of work, all the pieces came together to create something that stands up to any liquid no matter how rowdy the team gets.

Through this process, I gained a few new perspectives that I did not expect to learn.

The Insights

Perspective 1:

Sometimes there are no shortcuts or optimizations you can do to get a job done faster or better.

Who doesn't like shortcuts? We all use them at some point in our day-to-day. Shortcuts are awesome; why wouldn’t we take advantage if there a possible way to get the job with the same results but more efficient? It’s almost instinctive and expected today that we want things to be easier, faster, and better. But shortcuts don’t guarantee success. It can result in the opposite. When we take shortcuts we tend to get careless and place more emphasis on speed than on quality. I found this out the hard way especially when it came to the 3D printing optimizations and painting all the pieces by hand. The faster I went the worse it looked! Slow and steady will always win the race.

Perspective 2:

Small iterations are key to sustained interest, quality, and can add up quickly to a complete project.

An iterative process is one that makes progress through successive refinement. As a development team takes the first cut at a system, knowing it will be incomplete in some areas. The team understands through iterative refinements those areas will improve in the future. With each iteration, the software is improved through the addition of greater detail. I took the very same approach with this project. Each task in the process I broke up into small chunks of work to ensure I stayed interested and to produce the best quality of results; instead of just completing the project to complete it. This approach gave me the result you see today, with the only downside of the project taking longer than initially intended.

Perspective 3:

The best ideas appear when you "go offline".

When we use our hands on a task that doesn’t demand much cognitively, it gives the mind a chance to relax and rest; or at least it did for me when I was sanding and painting. As a Director for a big data platform, I’m constantly using my brain. My brain rarely catches a break, so this was a great way to focus on something simple. When my brain is in an ‘offline” state, it gives it a chance to work on problems behind the scenes. From a number of papers and articles that I read on a topic to having breakthrough ideas while "mindlessly" working on the project. The time spent on the project was very impactful to both my work and personal life. This leads me to hightly recommend everyone should try to find a hobby or project to go "offline". Try it out! Let me know what you think!?

The Game Board

1 - g2vFg7i.jpg

Game board for playing Settlers Of Catan 4 or 6 person set.

The project took approximately 350 hours in total to complete. This includes designing & modifying models for 3D printing, painting, creating the platforms, and finishing touches.

What's cool is we don't have to use cards for this board. Instead, all resources are small tokens that are kept in your very chest. Each of the token sets took about 4-6 hours to complete 12 at a time for the best printing quality.

Each resource and port piece is placed on a stained pine platform with a 3D printed terrain piece glued to the top to represent the respected resource.


  • 3D Printer
  • Computer
  • 3D software
  • Table Saw
  • Drill Press
  • Sand Paper
  • Small paintbrushes
  • Two or more hands
  • Lots of time


  • 1.5Kg of PLA (3D printer filament)
  • 70 0.5mm magnetic steel balls
  • White glue
  • PLA paint primer
  • A variety of acrylic paint
  • 1/8" Pine veneered plywood
  • Wood stain
  • Rags
  • Clean up stuff

The Process

Big shout out to my father who assisted with providing the woodworking tools and experience to the project!

2 - FPqDNBv.jpg

Primed all the 3D-printed pieces once printing was complete. Each of the resource pieces took about 4 hours each to 3D print. I could only print one at a time as I have a small 3D printer. (IIIP Monoprice MP Select) Sorry, no pictures of the pieces being printed.

3 - 5biWbCZ.jpg

Let the painting begin! Each piece took approximately 3-4 hours to paint in total.

4 - dsdcFyS.jpg

5 - KWzqo3H.jpg

Once we cut each of the wood bottoms, we then stained and clear-coated each piece to ensure protection and style!

6 - 83kdLmF.jpg

The next step was to drill the holes in the side of the pieces for the magnets to keep the pieces together on the table. 6 holes apiece, taking about 30-45seconds once the guides were set up.

7 - 1QB3Syz.jpg

Gluing in the magnetic balls to make the board sticks together on the table without an outer board edge.

8 - kX8Eice.jpg

9 - O4huemQ.jpg

10 - iWQFJJC.jpg

11 - yB73q07.jpg

12 - PD1Kq04.jpg

13 - 2ZEcpuv.jpg

14 - XYhklnP.jpg

15 - 2JA3jfz.jpg

16 - Gu3u5Lv.jpg

17 - KwGRcKt.jpg

18 - MvjXgwz.jpg

19 - 5lNnRAC.jpg

20 - MCFpqme.jpg

21 - 7xqc0D6.jpg

22 - V6SRFFj.jpg

23 - sE0Gj6P.jpg

24 - R53ErIA.jpg

25 - UTELjs1.jpg

26 - zw56Uuo.jpg

27 - cx90gEm.jpg

28 - rIGsTV3.jpg

29 - uLbpz7S.jpg

Hope you enjoyed! Hit me up if you ever want to play!